Salute to 15!

On November 4th, the USBG in Las Vegas celebrated the founding of our chapter with the Salute to 15! Many of our newer members and former counsel, along with the founding fathers, looked at the history of the Las Vegas USBG chapter. The now legendary original members, Livio Lauro, Bobby Gleason and Tony Abou-Ganim helped bring us back to the beginning of the chapter and as we gazed towards the future!

In the scope of human history, 15 years may not be a lot, but for the local F&B scene it has meant worlds of change. Vegas has long been a 24-hour-a-day beverage epicenter where mass quantities have been consumed by people from all over the world.

While we had all of those things, including one of the most prolific flair scenes anywhere, there was something missing. The beverage renaissance that had been well under way in other cities had not quite taken hold here. We just needed a spark.

Then entered the USBG…

Along with the cultural shifts around the country, the United States Bartenders’ Guild was a key factor in helping spawn the movement. After its inception in 1948, it has spread to every state with the tenant of reinvigorating our profession. In our great city, it has done just that.

Kristen Schaefer is a longtime bartender, USBG member, nationwide Absolut Elyx ambassador, and the President of the Las Vegas chapter of the guild. She spoke to this, saying, “From a social standpoint, it looks like many of our members have met new lifetime friends thanks to the guild. From a hospitality standpoint the guild is a motivator for its members and therefore raises the bar.”

The event was there to celebrate that spark. It was held at the new location of Nora’s, which has long been a beacon for finely made drinks and food in the valley. It was quite poignant being there and being reminded of how far we have come, and where we can go.

Many of the founding fathers that have helped shape and inspire us were there to revel in the moment. Our new USBGLV logo was unveiled, showing the iconic skyline & our new motto, “Hospitality First,” and members had the opportunity to purchase pins, shirts and the now infamous Fernet coin.

Kristen Schaefer noted, “It was a little surreal. I didn’t quite realize the magnitude of what was happening until it was happening. We made history that day. For all of us, it was pretty powerful.”

The culmination of the event was a toast and the burying of our first ever time capsule! The time capsule was buried in the front of Nora’s and will remain underground until November 1, 2031 for 15 years. The time capsule contained our current member list, a copy of the very first minutes from the first meeting, photos, cocktail menus and work cards.

In 15 years, we will rejoin with past and then current 2031 members to unveil what was encapsulated. There will be many cocktails, a lot of food and even more stories to be had; it will be a part of USBG history!

Looking ahead we have much to be excited about. We have more products, access to knowledge and desire to do it right, than we ever have. Our city is at the precipice, but we must keep moving forward.

Founding father Livio Laurio had this to say, “We will continue to set the bar for the nation. The hospitality of our bartender members and the service provided to guests are just as good as any other major city; but Vegas displays an unmatched level of humility and positive attitude.”

Kristen expounded on this point, “I am proud of our city and the camaraderie it has built over the past few years. We still have a ways to go, but as someone who travels a lot, there is no city in the world that compares to Las Vegas when it comes to passion, encouragement of each other and a yearning to be the best! I have no doubt that the fire has been sparked and the new council will continue to feed the flame. They are already proving that with their plans for AZCW and Slinger. I am excited to see what comes next!”

While it was a truly amazing day and it was a great chance to look back at where we were and where we are going, it gave us a chance to reflect and give thanks and pay homage to our forefathers.

With the sun shining in the western sky, we could feel the connection to the great esteemed lineage of barmen that gave birth to our profession. The founding members and former and current counsels have all been an inspiration to us. I want to thank all of the members for making our chapter great and especially for the council who have given their blood, sweat and tears to the guild and to our profession. Kristen Schaefer, Raul Faria, Cody Fredrickson and Adam O’Donnell have made us all proud! And cheers to all members past, current and future, and to the passion that lies within! Salute!

Cocktail of the Month

“The Truth Lies Low”
By Adam Rains

1 3/4 oz Don Pancho 8 year Rum

1/2 oz Contratto Bitter

1 oz Lime

1/2 oz Pineapple

1/2 oz Orgeat

1/4 oz Chick Pea Water

3 dashes of BarKeep’s Chinese Bitters

Combine all ingredients into mixing glass. Shake hard without ice; add ice and shake again. Pour into an ice-filled Collins glass. Drop in an Amarena Cherry with a dash of the cherry sauce and let it sink to the bottom of the glass.

About the USBG

The United States Bartenders’ Guild is comprised of spirit professionals dedicated to the art of the craft of Bartending. For information on how to join, please go to

WSET Level 1 Wine Certification Napa Valley Wine Academy at Total Wine Summerlin.